‘The Vampire Slayer’ ups the tension by throwing Spike into the mix as an ominous new threat is waiting in the wings. Everything about this series is just fun and hits all the right notes for the Buffy loving souls out there, while bringing a ton of welcome new aspects to the table. This is exactly how you relaunch and add to an established universe.
Making friends with an evil vampire. A witch burdened with Slayer powers losing control. A slayer that’s not a slayer any more. Ravens or crows showing up and exploding their feathers right off. Just another typical day in Sunnydale really.
Issue after issue, The Vampire Slayer adds more and more layers to a world that on the surface is very familiar yet is completely different than we remember. BOOM! Studios previous Buffy the Vampire Slayer series was a modern take on the world accomplished through a full-scale reboot and starting at the very beginning. What Sarah Gailey has done with this series is a much different and intriguing take on the world. Essentially this is the world of Buffy as we knew it in the early seasons but various changes have been made to the characters, in ways that feel natural within the scope of this world.
We’ve seen things like Willow struggle with magical related darkness or Buffy feeling out of place in the world or Xander trusting folks that he probably should not. Except, these elements are not the same as they were in the show or other stories and are not just rehashes. Everything to do with these characters’ journeys right now are different and compelling and full of all the emotional punch that Buffy fans have loved for 25 years.
Truly this series is a perfect example of how stories/character/concepts created in another time can very much be updated for modern audiences/sensibilities without losing anything. In fact, the Buffyverse has gained a lot with what this series brings to the table.
Gailey is being complete additive and not destructive while moving through this universe. All the characters feel just like they always have, except they have issues and situations that are relatable to those of us living in 2022 rather than the late 90s when the series was created.
Changing artists to set a variety of tones is a concept that can bring a lot to any series, especially when working to establish the tone, but there can also be something said to having some artistic consistency across issues. Sonia Liao remains on board after returning to the series with the last issue, pairing up quite nicely with regular colorist Valentina Pinto.
Key to the world of Buffy is the inherent levels of darkness or tough reality that circle around these fictional elements, with much of the monster elements being allegories for the human/teen experience. This comes out very well in Liao’s artwork because there is a bit of a roughness in the overall appearance. It allows the shadows and darkness to slip into the cracks and cling to the characters and world in a very satisfying way. Especially in the scenes with Spike vamping out or Willow going dark magic, the horror elements are elevated and mesh well with the more normal things around them.
Pinto matches this beat for beat with the color palates on display, bring in dark heavy shadows and colors that bring more weight to the world and scenes. We still have bright pops of color as these are colorful teenage characters in a colorful world fighting back against the darkness, but those bright spots are toned down or grounded in a way as the darkness does have a hold in their world/lives.
Also, still on board is the stalwart Ed Dukeshire who has handled quite a bit of Buffy-related lettering at this point. Whether its dialogue or other displayed lettering, Dukeshire makes sure that it works and fits with the tone that the artwork is going for. Big giant jagged speech bubbles with large font for yelling, or smaller scales of letters to indicate a quieter or more contemplative moment. During the aforementioned moment with the exploding crow/raven, the horror is accentuated by the large SFX shriek behind it, but then the absurdity of the moment is helped by the giant “PWFF” SFX that feels both scary and silly at the same time, much like the naked bird that follows and the whole situation.
The Vampire Slayer #6 is now available from BOOM! Studios.